An effective narrative and visual way to share a piece of sports history.

SISTERS AND CHAMPIONS

THE TRUE STORY OF VENUS AND SERENA WILLIAMS

A look at how a father’s dream to develop his daughters into tennis champions changed the world of sports.

Richard Williams, father of African-American tennis players Venus and Serena, had to overcome ridicule and disbelief when he set out to mold his girls into star athletes. The family did what was necessary to help the girls improve, such as move from Compton to Florida so they could train. Even then, Richard Williams did things his way, bypassing the junior tournaments that others in their age range played. “People said Dad was hurting his girls. Dad said he had a plan, that they were a family and families always stick together.” Their unity helped them overcome the gossip, some of it negative, and they began to climb the rankings due to their hard work and relentless style. Eventually, Venus and Serena fulfilled their father’s belief and became the No. 1– and No. 2–ranked players in the world, the only time siblings have achieved such a feat. Author Bryant brings his considerable sportswriting experience to bear as he energetically shares one of sports’ truly remarkable stories with young readers. Cooper’s mixed-media paintings done with his reductive technique provide a strong sense of the Williams sisters’ image while serving as a forceful compliment. There is no backmatter with resources for readers who want to learn more about these powerful women who so dramatically changed tennis.

An effective narrative and visual way to share a piece of sports history. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-16906-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

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A striking visual representation of how the label “bad reader” can feel.

A WALK IN THE WORDS

A slow reader gains confidence.

Strongly influenced by Talbott’s own childhood reading journey, a young tot with a mop of brown hair and pale skin loves art, but reading doesn’t come as naturally. Crayons and colored pencils create imaginative worlds, but the words on a page crowd together, forming an impenetrable wall, with the youngster barely able to peer over. The rest of the class seemingly soars ahead, turning page after page, but the books (in the protagonist’s mind) give chase, flying menacingly like a scene from Hitchcock: “And they were coming for me! / So many words! So many pages!” Talbott expertly captures the claustrophobic crush of unknown vocabulary, first as a downpour of squiggles from the sky, then as a gnarled, dark forest with words lining the branches. But reading slowly doesn’t mean not reading at all. The youngster learns to search for familiar words, using them as steppingstones. And there are advantages: “Slow readers savor the story!” There is even a “Slow Readers Hall of Fame” included, featuring Albert Einstein, Sojourner Truth, and many others. Talbott excels at evincing concepts visually, and this talent is in evidence here as his protagonist first struggles then gains mastery, surfing confidently down a wave of words. Patience and curiosity (along with some fierce determination) can unlock incredible stories. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A striking visual representation of how the label “bad reader” can feel. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-54871-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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